The letter of St. Paul to the Philippians is an epistle of encouragement and thanksgiving. The Church in Philippi was always eager to support the work of Christ no matter what the cost, and the apostle wants to express his profound gratitude for their prayers and assistance. This is a very personal letter from the pen of St. Paul. Unlike his letters to the Romans and the Galatians, there are no big debates or controversies to be resolved. Thus, Philippians is also rather informal in style ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù in a way similar to how we could write close friends.
The Apostle encourages his readers to follow his example of imitating Jesus in all things, but especially in terms of his servanthood (Philippians 2:1-11; 2:12-18). St. Paul is committed to his Savior in all and through all. The Christian life is not easy, but the apostle Paul is adamant about the fact that the joy of knowing Christ is worth every struggle.
As you read through this short epistle, look for ways you can imitate St. Paul's servanthood and more fully receive the joy of knowing Jesus in your own life.
Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in this letter:
- Love Jesus in all things: 'With full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:20-21).'
- Suffering is a part of the Christian life: 'It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).'
- Christ was the supreme servant: '[Though Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_he humbled himself and became obedient unto death’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_Therefore God has highly exalted him (Philippians 2:5-11).'
- Nothing compares to the joy found in knowing Christ Jesus: 'But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I might gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-11).'
- Our real home is in Heaven with Jesus: 'Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).'
- Only in Jesus will we ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉnd eternal joy and happiness: 'Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).'
- The 'focuses' of the Christian life: ''Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).'